Austria urged not to detain migrant children

Members of the Austrian Parliament are being urged by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) to give priority to the best interests of children as they debate changes to the Austrian Asylum Act.

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If passed, the draft law will require all new asylum seekers to stay in reception centres for up to seven days with possible detention for anyone who breaks this rule.

UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic says this restriction could prevent new asylum seekers from being able to get freely chosen legal advice or support.

“A further problematic aspect of the bill concerns detention of children. While children below the age of 14 are not affected by this, those between the ages of 14 and 18 are may be subject to being detained. UNHCR calls on Members of the Austrian Parliament to restrict detention of all minors and to give priority to the best interests of the child in order to ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

The changes under discussion are the fourth set of revisions since the Austrian Asylum Act entered into force in 2006.

The draft is set to be discussed in Parliament next week and is scheduled to be adopted in April 2011.

Duration: 27″

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